“My favourite wizard boy!” cried the old man happily, as Colin rushed into his bedroom and his open, weakly arms. They both hugged each other tightly and the old man kissed his forehead. “How are you?”
“I feel good, Your Highness,” Colin replied, also happily. “Are we ready for another magic potion testing today?”
“As always, my boy.” The old man ruffled his dark hair. “But don’t forget to put your schoolbag in your room.”
“Okay.” Then off the boy ran into his room and dumped his bag there. He trudged back downstairs and had almost bumped into me on the way to the kitchen. “Oops! Sorry, Chloe.”
“That’s okay, buddy.” I smiled at my six-year-old half brother as he busied himself in the kitchen. Preparing tea, sugar, cup, milk…everything for his ‘magic potion’. This time, it was Thai tea. He’d pushed me to teach him how to make it, believing that this time – it would work. I mean, look at him now. He didn’t even bother have his lunch first.
Once the Thai tea was done, he brought it on a tray to our dad’s room. Such a good boy, I sometimes think sadly. Charlotte’s never got to see him grow. She died giving birth to Colin, so Dad needs my help to raise and take care of him.
“Ooh, what do we have this time?” Dad was beaming. Colin gave him the cup carefully. His mouth was moving, murmuring some made-up incantations he’d probably read in some of those children’s fairy tales or fantasy books. He was still obsessed with being a powerful wizard. Merlin was his idol.
“Now it’s safe to drink this.” Colin waited patiently as the old man, our dad, finished the drink. Then he asked him, “How was it?”
“Splendid!” Dad smiled at him. His green eyes were twinkling. “I’m feeling much better now.”
“Better than ever before!” Dad put the cup back on the tray and gave Colin a hug. “Wizard boy, you’re my life’s saviour.”
Then the two of them were talking and giggling for a while, with me watching them from a distance with a smile. He was Colin’s whole world – his super hero, his role model. Of course, Colin would do anything in the world to make him feel better.
When Colin finally left to do his homework, the old man and I exchanged glances. We were smiling, but the sadness in his eyes made me choke. I was holding back my tears.
“When are we telling him?” I asked him for the umpteenth time. When he shook his head slowly, I demanded: “Why not?”
“Because I just don’t have the heart, Chloe,” he reasoned. “Look at him. He’s just a boy.”
“I know, but – “
“Please, tell him that for me. “ His green eyes were pleading now. “I’m sorry.”
“Okay.” I nodded.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance. Colin banged on my door that morning, crying:
“Chloe, something’s wrong with Dad!”
We both rushed into his room. He was still sleeping. I checked his pulse and felt nothing. I called dr.Hayes to make sure. He said he’d be there soon.
It didn’t take long for dr.Hayes to confirm it. When I turned around, Colin was already running to his room. I chased after him.
The boy slammed the door behind him. I heard a lock being turned. I knocked on the door.
“Go away!” he yelled at me. “Leave me alone!” Then I heard him cry. I felt my own tears starting too…
Ooh, Colin. I’m sorry, kid…
Everything felt like a blur after that. The funeral. The people. Family and friends.
Colin refused to attend the funeral. He didn’t even want to come out of his room all day. He said he wasn’t hungry, but I left him some cookies and milk in front of his door anyway. He finished them when none of us were looking, but that was okay. I decided to give him his space.
Once everyone was gone that night, I knocked on Colin’s door and asked: “Can I come in?”
“It’s not locked.” I opened the door. He was sitting on his bed, his eyes red. I motioned my hand toward his bed.
“May I sit there?” Colin just nodded, so I did. Neither of us had said anything for a while until I finally did: “I’m sorry. Dad had wanted me to tell you, but – “
“He lied to me,” Colin cut in miserably. “He said he was feeling better. I thought all my magic potions worked.”
Ooh, poor boy. I took out my cellphone from my pocket and started playing a video I’d recorded. It was of him and Dad, in one of their ‘magic potion testing’ sessions – as he’d called it. I showed it to him.
“He wasn’t lying,” I gently told Colin. “Look, he always had this smile on his face. That means he was feeling better. That means you were his magic, buddy.”
“But he died.”
“Well, he’s no longer in pain now,” I assured my baby brother. He put his head on my shoulder and I hugged him. “He’s in a better place with the angels now.”
“Can we see him again?”
“Maybe not now, but someday we will.” I stroked his hair as I looked up. “There’s always magic for that.”
(Jakarta, 21/5/2015 – from The Couchsurfing Writers’ Club Gathering at Kopi Oey, Jalan Sabang, starting at 8:00 pm. Theme / topic: “magic”.)